* “British police cede streets of central London to Hamas supporters”
* Norway’s pro-Israel opposition leader under 24-hour guard
* “Zionist terrorists started operating in the days of Jesus” (says leading Norwegian paper)
1. Restaurants in Pakistan’s Quetta stop serving women
2. British police: “We didn’t run away from Gaza protestors. It was an orderly walk backwards”
3. San Francisco, city of love, understanding and tolerance?
4. Norway’s pro-Israel opposition leader under 24-hour guard
5. Rocket barrages from Gaza into Israel continue
6. Israel asks Cyprus to impound Iranian weapons
7. Jimmy Carter: Hamas can be trusted
8. Turkey’s PM gets hero’s welcome for slurring Israelis
9. “Only dogs can enter: no Armenians or Jews!”
10. But close relations between Turkey and Israel likely to continue
11. Iraqi shoe-thrower honored with statue
[All notes below by Tom Gross]
RESTAURANTS IN PAKISTAN’S QUETTA STOP SERVING WOMEN
The Pakistani newspaper The Daily Times reports from Lahore that an increasing number of restaurants in Quetta have stopped serving women following pressure by Islamic radicals in the region.
Residents of Quetta told The Daily Times that Islamists “believe that if men and women have the ability to socialize, ‘immoral behavior’ will result.”
Restaurants have begun to display boards saying, “For men only, No women allowed,” reports the paper.
A number of girls’ schools have also been destroyed in the region, and video, DVD and CD shops as well as Internet cafes have been bombed by extremists recently. (As I noted on this email list last year, such shops and cafes have also been bombed by Islamists in Gaza.)
BRITISH POLICE: “WE DIDN’T RUN AWAY FROM GAZA PROTESTORS. IT WAS AN ORDERLY WALK BACKWARDS”
I sent the amateur video below to various people, including journalists, a week ago, and some have now written about it, including a story in yesterday’s Mail on Sunday.
For those who haven’t seen it, it is quite an extraordinary ten minutes of footage as the police run away from a pro-Hamas mob and allow traffic cones and other items to be thrown at them on some of London’s grandest streets. At one point in the video, one can see St James’s Palace, the Ritz hotel and the Wolseley restaurant on Piccadilly. The police appear outnumbered and too intimidated to make any arrests.
Chants of “Allah Akbar” (Allah is Greatest) can also be heard. Two orthodox Jews were severely assaulted after the demonstration, including a student who is a co-chair of a Jewish-Muslim friendship society at Oxford University.
As I mentioned in a dispatch last month, a policeman protecting the Israeli embassy was beaten unconscious following one of these demonstrations.
GAYS FOR HAMAS?
One demonstrator in the video shouts: “Run, run, you cowards. Run, you poof. Allah Akbar.” His use of the word “poof” (homosexual) is interesting because in the item below from San Francisco, demonstrators held up banners saying “Gays for Palestine.” As I have pointed out many times over the years, the attitude of Islamist movements, including Hamas, towards homosexuals is not exactly enlightened.
Metropolitan Police Commander Bob Broadhurst yesterday told The Mail on Sunday that his force’s rapid retreat in the face of pro-Hamas protestors was “not running away” but “going backwards in an orderly manner.”
You need to watch the full ten minutes to see just how disturbing this “protest” was.
SAN FRANCISCO, CITY OF LOVE, UNDERSTANDING AND TOLERANCE?
Reminder: The Nazis dehumanized the Jews over many years before killing them. That is not to say that Jews will be killed in San Francisco, but these protestors should know better. If they want to criticize Israeli policies against Hamas, they could have done so without resorting to such anti-Semitic incitement.
NORWAY’S PRO-ISRAEL OPPOSITION LEADER UNDER 24-HOUR GUARD
Siv Jensen, chairwoman of the main opposition Progress Party in Norway, remains under 24-hour police guard after she received a slew of death threats following her appearance at a pro-Israel rally in Oslo on January 8.
“I have never experienced this kind of hatred in Norway,” said Dr. Asle Toje, foreign policy adviser to the Progress Party, who was present at the demonstration. “There were people throwing stones at and spitting on rally-goers. Afterward, people carrying Israeli flags were randomly attacked in the streets.”
The Socialist Party, which is part of the governing coalition, has proposed a number of boycotts against Israel since the government was formed in 2005.
“ZIONIST TERRORISTS STARTED OPERATING IN THE DAYS OF JESUS”
Israeli/Nazi comparisons and anti-Semitic incidents are now commonplace, particularly on the Norwegian left, Toje said.
Last month, Trine Lilleng, a senior Norwegian diplomat in Saudi Arabia sent out a mass email, saying: “The grandchildren of Holocaust survivors from World War II are doing to the Palestinians exactly what was done to them by Nazi Germany.”
As reported at the time on this email list, in August 2006, Jostein Gaardner, Norway’s most famous living writer (author of the book “Sophie’s World,” which has been translated into 53 languages and sold 26 million copies), wrote an article for the leading Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten saying Israel should be dismantled.
“Zionist terrorists started operating in the days of Jesus,” he wrote, among other anti-Semitic slurs.
ROCKET BARRAGES FROM GAZA INTO ISRAEL CONTINUE
In spite of Israel’s campaign against Hamas last month, Qassam rockets and mortar shells continue to be fired at civilians in southern Israel. Yesterday three Israelis were wounded. In response the Israeli Air Force attacked a number of arms-smuggling tunnels in Gaza. There were no Palestinian casualties.
Despite rocket fire against Israel, Kerem Shalom, Karni, Nahal Oz and Erez crossings remain open, enabling large quantities of humanitarian aid, fuel, and other supplies to enter Gaza from Israel.
ISRAEL ASKS CYPRUS TO IMPOUND IRANIAN WEAPONS
An Iranian ship that remains docked in the Cypriot port of Limassol is at the center of a diplomatic row. The vessel’s cargo reportedly includes mortar shells and tank ammunition.
It was originally intercepted a week ago by a United States ship but the crew decided it did not have the legal right to impound the Iranian craft. The U.S. believes the cargo was bound for either Hamas in Gaza or Hizbullah in Lebanon.
The ship then made its way to Cyprus and has been docked there since. Cyprus is investigating whether the Iranian cargo violates a UN Security Council resolution that bans Iran from selling arms.
JIMMY CARTER: HAMAS CAN BE TRUSTED
In an interview on NBC’s “Today” show last week, former U.S. President Jimmy Carter said that Hamas can be trusted. Carter claimed, to the amazement of many, that Hamas had not fired any missiles during last year’s six-month ceasefire agreement. In fact, Hamas and its proxy militias in Gaza regularly fired missiles at Israel throughout the so-called ceasefire.
But Carter did admit during the interview that “Hamas did bad things. I’m not defending them.”
TURKEY’S PM GETS HERO’S WELCOME FOR SLURRING ISRAELIS
The key strategic regional relationship between Turkey and Israel has become strained following recent outbursts at Jews and Israel by Turkey’s prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The latest was at the World Economic Forum in Davos last week where Erdogan called Israel a “savage” country which “committed a crime against humanity” and should “not be let through the gates of the UN.”
(Erdogan had little to say about Turkey’s appalling human rights record towards millions of Kurds, its continuing military occupation of northern Cyprus, its refusal to admit the true nature of the World War I massacres of Armenian civilians, and so on.)
Erdogan’s behavior at Davos prompted a furious rebuttal by the usually restrained Israeli president and elder statesman, Shimon Peres. Speaking with a raised voice and pointed finger, Peres questioned what Erdogan would do if rockets were fired at Istanbul every night. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon and many world leaders were in attendance.
Erdogan received a hero’s welcome from thousands of jubilant supporters who had gathered at Istanbul airport when he returned home on Friday. Many were waving Turkish and Palestinian flags. However, several leading Turkish newspapers criticized Erdogan for his comments and loss of temper, saying “they could lead to a serious downturn in support for Turkey internationally on several key issues.”
Ankara’s criticism of Israel has become more vocal since the Islamist-rooted Justice and Development Party came to power in 2002. Erdogan faces reelection soon.
CNN reported that Hamas had praised Erdogan for his stance. Red and white Turkish flags were quickly manufactured by Hamas and placed next to green Hamas banners at rallies throughout Gaza City on Friday.
“ONLY DOGS CAN ENTER: NO ARMENIANS OR JEWS!”
There is increasing anti-Semitism in Turkey. Rallies across Turkey in December and January contained ugly references to the Nazis, which is particularly unfortunate because Turkey is one of the very few countries that helped protect Jews during World War II, and the Ottoman Sultans famously opened their doors to Jews fleeing from Christian persecution in Spain over 500 years ago.
Last month, for example, members of a nationalist group in the western city of Eskisehir brandished placards that read, “Only dogs can enter: no Armenians or Jews!”
Israel was particularly exasperated by a Turkish education ministry circular telling Turkish schoolchildren to observe a minute’s silence “in solidarity with Palestine.” (Some Israelis have suggested having a minute’s silence in Israeli schools in memory of victims of the Turkish genocide of Armenians in response.)
Last year a Pew Global Attitudes survey found that anti-Jewish sentiment in Turkey had risen: 76 percent said they had negative views of Jews, whereas only 7 percent said they looked kindly on them.
“Prime Minister Erdogan’s tantrum at Davos throws gasoline on the fire of surging anti-Semitism,” American Jewish Committee Director David Harris said in a statement.
BUT CLOSE RELATIONS BETWEEN TURKEY AND ISRAEL LIKELY TO CONTINUE
Radical Turkish Islamists have long tried to stir up anti-Semitism, for example claiming that the secular founder of modern Turkey Kemal Ataturk was “really a Jew and that “Jewish capital” was trying to take over the country. In recent years leftists have joined in with this anti-Jewish chorus, accusing Israel of plotting “to set up an independent Zionist-Kurdish state in northern Iraq that will aim to take large chunks out of south-eastern Turkey” and so on.
Similar rows have occurred before. In 2004 Erdogan infuriated Israel by calling it a “terrorist state” after it killed Hamas’s founder, Sheikh Ahmed Yassin. Erdogan then invited Khaled Meshaal, Hamas’s present leader, to visit Turkey. At the time Israeli-Turkish relations were mended after some careful diplomacy by the Bush administration, and military co-operation continued uninterrupted.
In 1948, Turkey was among the first countries to recognize Israel. Under a military co-operation deal signed in 1996, Israeli pilots have been training in Turkish skies for over a decade. In 2007, bilateral trade rose to $2.7 billion.
Following Erdogan’s outburst, Turkish Foreign Minister Ali Babacan told Turkey’s NTV television that “The relations between Turkey and Israel are strategic and would continue.”
IRAQI SHOE-THROWER HONORED WITH STATUE
Reuters reports from Tikrit that the town has unveiled a giant monument of a shoe in honor of the journalist who threw his footwear at outgoing U.S. President George W. Bush.
The two-meter (six-foot) high statue, unveiled on Thursday in former dictator Saddam Hussein’s home town of Tikrit, depicts a bronze-colored shoe, filled with a plastic shrub.
The Arabic inscription honors journalist Muntazer al-Zaidi, who hurled his shoes at Bush and called him a “dog” at a news conference during the former president’s final visit to Iraq.
The one-and-a-half-ton monument by artist Laith al-Amiri was titled “Statue of glory and generosity”.
I am glad to see Iraqis are now able to exercise free expression of a kind that was unimaginable under Saddam and still remains unimaginable in much of the Arab world.
-- Tom Gross